The census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation. The census helps our communities determine where to build everything from schools to supermarkets, and from homes to hospitals. It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities. It is also used to draw the lines of legislative districts and reapportion the seats each State holds in Congress.
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For most of the United States, "Census Day" for the 1980 enumeration was April 1, 1980.1 As in past censuses, all questionnaires were to be completed giving information as of that date, regardless of when the form was actually completed.
The 1980 census also included two small surveys-the Components of Inventory Change Survey, which obtained information on counts and characteristics of the housing units that changed or stayed the same between 1973 and 1980; and the Residential Finance Survey, requesting data on mortgages, shelter costs, selected housing characteristics, and owner characteristics.
The use of a mailout/mailback questionnaire in 1970 had proven successful, and eased the follow-up operation burden. Furthermore, tests during the 1970 census indicated the feasibility of administering a mailout/mailback census in rural areas and small towns. As a result, the mail census areas for 1980 covered 95.5 percent of the United States population.
Field Enumeration. The 1980 field enumeration procedures were similar to those used in1970, with the exception of the greatly expanded use of the mail for questionnaire delivery and return. Households received a questionnaire in the mail, completed it, and mailed it back to their local census district office. In those areas enumerated conventionally (i.e., through enumerator visits to the housing unit), the U.S. Postal Service delivered a questionnaire to each household 4 days prior to Census Day. Respondents were instructed to complete their questionnaires, but hold them until an enumerator visited the household. The enumerators collected the completed short-form questionnaires or helped the head of the household complete the format the time of the visit, or completed along-form questionnaire at designated housing units. Enumerators also enumerated individuals living in group quarters.
Publicity. The 1980 census incorporated an extensive advertising and promotion campaign. The focus of the campaign was to increase public awareness and cooperation with the census, i.e., to encourage households to fill out their census forms, and in mail census areas, mail them back to their census district offices.
The campaign was directed by the Census Bureau's Census Promotion Office (CPO), established in the Summer 1978. The CPO secured the free services of the Advertising Council in directing the advertising campaign. The Council, in turn, hired the firm of Ogilvy & Mather to develop the campaign.
The promotion campaign incorporated media advertising, the distribution of information kits to magazines and newspapers and census promotional kits to over 100,000 schools, and the development of an extensive network of partnerships with corporations and private organizations interested in supporting the census. In addition, public relations specialists in the Census Bureau's regional and district offices handled a variety of more localized promotional activities, including obtaining time for public service announcements (PSAs) from local broadcast outlets, advising census managers on working with the press, partnering with local companies, and serving as liaisons with complete-count committees (over 4,000 complete count committees were organized through out the country in an effort to generate local publicity and support for the census).
1 "Census Day" in northern and western Alaska was January 22, 1980, so the enumeration would be completed prior to the Spring thaw. As part of an agreement with the local governments, Census Day in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (excluding the commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands) was September 15, 1980, so teachers could be used as enumerators.
Coverage of the National Population in the 1980 Census
Presents preliminary estimates, prepared using demographic analysis, of total legal resident population, age, sex, and race as of April 1980, the census date.
Characteristics of the Population: General Social and Economic: 1980
View and download the reports from the 1980 Census of Population.
Ancestry of the Population by State: 1980
This report presents 1980 census information on the population size and geographic distribution of more than 100 ancestry groups in the U.S..
1980 Census: Detailed Occupation of the Civilian Labor Force by Sex
This report presents detailed occupation data by sex at the National and regional levels from the 1970 and 1980 Censuses of Population.
America's Centenarians: Data From the 1980 Census
This report presents characteristics for persons 85 years and older (in four age groups to 105 years and over) by sex, race, social, & economic characteristics.
1970 and 1980 Industry and Occupation Classification Systems
This paper describes the changes in the industry and occupation classification systems used in the 1970 census and 1980 census.
Migration Between the United States and Canada
This unique study describes and assesses the background and characteristics of the U.S.-born population in Canada and the Canadian-born population in the U.S.
Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000
Contains questionnaires and instructions, plus individual histories of each census.
Coastline Population Trends in the United States 1960 to 2008
This report examines population trends in coastline counties and those counties’ shares of coastline states for the period 1960 to 2008.